The Australian division of European aerospace company Airbus has confirmed it is buying Air New Zealand's subsidiary Safe Air.
Last week the Business Herald revealed Airbus Group Australia Pacific was in the running to buy the business which does maintenance and engineering for a number of military and commercial customers, including the Royal New Zealand Air Force
Air New Zealand's chief operations officer Bruce Parton said the airline had been exploring opportunities for some time to secure a solid future for Safe Air.
Airbus Group Australia Pacific has more than 1400 staff at 15 sites across Australia and New Zealand. It has three operating divisions - Civil Helicopters, Government Helicopters and Fixed Wing - and maintains Orion and Hercules aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force.
"Our history with Safe Air spans more than four decades and it's important to us that we ensure its success in the future. Airbus Group is highly regarded in the aviation industry and, as a world-class military service provider, is closely aligned with the services Safe Air undertakes," said Parton.
"This is a fantastic outcome for Safe Air and its employees, with Airbus able to provide guidance, direction and the resources that will increase its capabilities and contribute to its growth. This in turn will have a positive impact on the local economy."
Jens Goennemann, managing director Airbus Group Australia Pacific said Safe Air's work was closely aligned with his firm.
"We've worked with Safe Air in the past and for us, bringing the company into Airbus strengthens our position and potential in New Zealand. We look forward to working with our new colleagues on a daily basis," he said.
Safe Air's main facility is in Blenheim and it also has staff based at the Ohakea and Whenuapai airbases and in Melbourne, Australia.
The transaction is expected to complete next month and details of this are confidential.
When in 2007 Safe Air won a $110 million, six-year contract to work on RNZAF planes, about 350 people worked there. Staff numbers have been cut since.
Airbus is in line to bid to replace New Zealand's ageing Hercules fleet with its new heavy military transport aircraft, the A400M, when tenders are opened within the next few years.
Establishing itself in this country will strengthen its case to sell the plane here, and other smaller aircraft, to the Air Force. The A400M programme did however, suffer a setback when one of the aircraft crashed in Spain last month.